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The Life-Changing Magic of Fixing Things

Tools to Repair Things

Long, long gone are the days of Luis’ Fix-it Shop, and with the new era of mass production & cheap consumer goods, repairs on anything but an Apple product seem like a waste of time & effort (& money that could be put towards a newer version).

What a shame! I am a champion of the repair for a number of reasons, and I’m going to convince you that you should be, too (whether or not, you know, you want to be the one who attempts said repairs).


If you know me personally or have followed along here for a while, you will have heard more than you ever wanted to about my home espresso machine. I bought a Starbucks "barista" manual espresso machine on sale in 2007 when they were clearing out their equipment; I used it once a day for the first few years, and two or three times daily for the last several (after my coffee-averse husband experienced life-changing lattes at Monmouth in London).

In that time, I have taken it completely apart probably half a dozen times. I’ve cleaned the pump, I replaced the thermal fuse – after a particularly low 6-week espresso drought & interminable waiting for the obscure part to arrive –, I’ve opened the boiler and decalcified it, I’ve replaced bolts that had been stripped from so much dis- & re-assembly.

But after all of this, I don’t feel like this machine is the bane of my existence; remarkably, I feel quite the opposite! The longer we’ve been together, the more intimately I’ve known it (ha ha) and time I’ve invested in it, the more appreciation & affinity I have! I’m proud of what I’ve learned & tried over the course of our adventures-in-repair, and I’m happy that instead of being in a landfill, it has had new life.

repairing a bike

7 Reasons To Value Repairing Things:

  • It is a rebellion against the big machine

    Buy, break, toss, buy. This is our “normal” cycle of consumer goods, and its pace has become breakneck. There is crazy pollution in China with no end in sight. By trying to fix and repair before buying new, you are a rebel (in the very best sense of the word ;)
  • You can learn so much!

    Even if something is beyond repair, it can be fascinating to take it apart and try to figure out how it did work. This becomes less and less interesting the more computerized that our items are (staring at a silicon chip does not reveal anything!), but any non-"smart" products have a lot to teach us. Toasters are not magic, but they are clever. Consider it a throwback physics lesson, or something to do with your kids to expand an appreciation of science & innovation.
  • Flex those under-utilized spatial muscles in your brain.

    We are so intellectual & words-focused in western culture. Screens are two dimensional, but physical items are not. Re-stitching a ripped seam or rewiring a lamp will get those neurons firing!
  • Pride & satisfaction when you do it!

    Fixing something is incredibly empowering! Like learning to bake a great cinnamon bun or cook a restaurant-quality meal, there is something so satisfying about completing a task yourself that otherwise would require an “expert”. 
  • A greater appreciation for the intricacy (or sometimes, simplicity) of our everyday things.

    I know that if I spent more time darning socks (which, I admit, looks horrible; that falls into the "not worth it" category for me) or plumbing or soldering circuits on small appliances, I'm certain I would not treat them so complacently.
  • You save money.

    After replacing our fridge & washing machine last year, when the clothes dryer stopped heating up, I had had enough. After googling the model number and coming across a detailed series of diagnosis & repair videos, I was pretty happy to buy a new fuse instead of a new dryer.
  • It’s badass.

    It is. You know it.


I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to do everything for themselves all the time, y’all. Hiring someone to fix your car, do your taxes, perform surgery*, fix your dishwasher, or even to sell you new things are all completely valid! If you have the means, it’s good for the economy to hire house painters or car cleaners or whatever.

* a physician friend has a story about a colleague who performed his own vasectomy. Ouch! Spoiler alert: it didn’t take.

I’m just suggesting that it is good to get our hands dirty here & there… :)

Have you ever repaired something in your life or home that swelled you with pride & satisfaction? Sewn or built or fixed? Share your wins in the comments below.


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